Do You Have a Development Process?


Is a Development Process in Place?Leadership is at the heart of creating an effective organization. Not only do you want to be an effective leader, but you want to create effective leaders within the organization. I said “create” because you need to help leaders fill the role even if you hire someone with a solid pedigree and great leadership skills. Why? Because leadership is the result of a development process.

In a recent post by Marshall Atkinson, he discussed the how and why of training employees as decision makers. As I read the post, it reminded me of the five styles of leadership discussed by a man I admire and consider a mentor, David Byrd. He lists those styles as follows:

  • The Comforter
  • The Regulator
  • The Task Master
  • The Manipulator
  • The Developer

Citing research by Dr. Jay Hall, he notes that the order of that list is how the different styles play out from least to greatest in terms of effectiveness. The really interesting thing is the gap between the last two styles, Manipulator and Developer. The Manipulator style of leadership is 55% effective, while the Developer is 92% effective. This means the Developer style is nearly twice as effective as the next closest style! Therefore being a developer is the goal for which we strive, and this requires a development process.

Why a Development Process?

Quite simply, you need a development process because effective leadership is something we’re always perfecting. True, there are qualities of effective leaders, and a good development process helps to hone those we already have or cultivate the qualities we lack. Still, one can never say they’ve developed these qualities to an absolute degree. In another article by Mr. Byrd, he states that effective leaders are neither natural nor instinctive. They are proactively driven by the following six qualities:

  • They believe in people
  • They attract involvement
  • They communicate effectively
  • They use real motivators
  • They know how to share power
  • They use the most effective style of leadership (the Developer)

Looking at the list above, you see why I say you never develop those qualities to the absolute degree. For example, your belief in people may fluctuate depending on the circumstances, and that determines how effectively you lead in a particular situation. I remember working with a fellow project manager on a roofing job. He had more experience than me, so I welcomed the chance to learn from him. I picked up a lot of great organizational tips. However, he operated from a philosophy I find hard to accept. He essentially felt that all employees are lazy, want to shirk responsibility, and will cheat an employer on every possible occasion. While I acknowledge that employees with those characteristics exist, I emphatically do not believe every employee operates with that mindset. Yet, being exposed to that thinking on a regular basis had an effect, and I found myself combating negative thoughts born of that philosophy, particular when the project fell behind (everyone wants a scapegoat).

What makes for a good developmental process? It starts with first honestly assessing where you are. That means asking hard questions regarding the six points mentioned above. You may need feedback from an honest, impartial second party because we often believe we’re doing well in these areas when in fact we’re not. Then determine where you’re going. That also takes some honest examination of yourself and your organization. For example, in what form does belief in people ideally manifest itself in your industry? Or ask yourself what are the real motivators that drive progressive growth within your industry? There are no one-size-fits-all answers, so dig deep and find what fits you. Once you determine both your starting and ending points, you can design a process to help develop leaders within your organization.

While there are specific skill sets your development process addresses, there’s also a need to work on core philosophies. That will directly affect the way you view others, and will bear on your ability to believe in them, share power, and even how you choose to communicate. So part of a good development process includes clearly communicating your organization’s vision and mission. It’s amazing how having a clear vision, one that’s easily communicated, can help ground and creatively channel the thoughts and abilities of your potential leaders. It helps you create goals, set benchmarks, and determine daily activities. All of that is part of the development process.

Are We There Yet?

Sustainable ResultsAs mentioned, a development process takes you from where you are to where you’re going. Yet, since leadership involves many so-called “soft” skills, how will you know when you’ve arrived? The true measure of a leader’s ability is his or her effectiveness. In the article, “Defining the Effective Leader,” David Byrd says effectiveness is “a constant process of multiplying what works and eliminating what does not.” What criteria can you use to determine a person’s effectiveness in a leadership role? You note if they:

  • Foster positive and creative work environments
  • Deliver measurable and sustainable results, and
  • Maintain the ethical integrity of the workplace

To recap, there are five styles of leadership, the Developer being the most effective. In order to create Developer style leaders in your organization, you need a development process designed to enhance a person’s belief in others, help them attract involvement, show them how to communicate effectively, inspire people through the use of real motivators, and teach them how to share power. You need to monitor their effectiveness in doing the preceding by measuring how well they perform the three criteria in the paragraph above. You do this by determining leading indicators that apply to your industry and organization. Here’s the final piece of the puzzle: You must submit to the same development process. Leading by example not only inspires your future leaders but also improves your own leadership skills. You become living testimony to the effectiveness of the process.

I’ve obviously painted in broad strokes. You’ll need specifics to help your organization implement a workable process. I’ll be happy to help by directing you to useful resources and consultants. Together let’s put you and those within your organization on the path to becoming more effective leaders by instituting a development process.

Do you currently have a development process? If so, do you monitor your effectiveness through leading or lagging indicators? Let me know in the Comments below.

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